Protecting your brand’s crown jewels.

5 tips for covering your most precious bits

Today Beg to Differ is reflecting on three clients that Brandvelope is currently working with. One is looking for a new name, pharmacy one is developing new “flagship” marketing materials, and a third is defining / refining their corporate Vision / Mission / Values. But all are looking for the same thing: the simple words, symbols, and phrases that will symbolize their power – or as I like to call them, the “crown jewels”.

The Polish Crown Jewels - replicas created in 2003 (photo by Kristián Slimák from Wikimedia Commons)

Branding is all about  your crown jewels

All right, all right, enough smirking dear readers. I’m not talking about “family jewels” – although those are precious in their own way and need to be well protected. I’m talking about the kind of Crown Jewels that they keep in the Tower of London, or as Wikipedia defines them:

Crown jewels are jewels or artifacts of the reigning royal family of their respective country. They belong to monarchs and are passed to the next sovereign to symbolize the right to rule. They may include crowns, scepters, orbs, swords, rings, and other objects.

Protecting your brand symbols - and the people inside them
An iconic Disney brand symbol learns how important - and difficult - it is to protect the crown jewels. Don't forget: there are humans behind those things!

Isn’t that a great metaphor for your logo, trademarks, and other core identity elements? And shouldn’t we treat those basic-but-critical words, images, and concepts with the same respect that a monarchy will apply to its crown jewels? After all, both kinds are intended to act as enduring symbols of your identity, purpose, and direction.

That is, they are if you treat them right…

How to treat your Crown Jewels

1) They are more than symbols

A crown is never just a crown; it stands for a country, its people, its ruler, and all the powers those things project into the world. Likewise a name is never just a name, and a logo can never just be a logo. These jewels have real power in the real world because they are proxies for you, and all the associations people have with your company and /or products .

2) They deserve care and respect

These jewels are the most precious assets that you have, and like crown jewels, they are the shared responsibility of executives, Board members, and brand managers. So I’m often surprised how badly the crown jewels are treated by the very people who are supposed to be caring for them – paraded around like costume jewelry, stored in shoe boxes, re-designed at will… I could go on.

3) Collect them together

Identify the 5-10 most important assets that define your brand. Then bring them together under the same person or department, and make sure they are managed as a set, not as individual artifacts. That is, you can’t change one without considering its impact on the others – then making those changes if they are worth making.

But note that most marketing assets are not crown jewels: an ad slogan that you only intend to use once or twice is not a crown jewel. But a tag-line that you attach to your logo for years at a time is.

4) Display them for all the people to see

Crown jewels belong to the people, so they lose their power if they are totally hidden away. Show them, celebrate them, build ceremonies around them.

5) Protect them (but keep a human face)

Nobody likes a brand cop. But everybody loves a London tower guard. Find ways to be inclusive and build real brand standards into your corporate culture in a way that doesn’t seem oppressive or heavy handed – so that everyone becomes part of the brand building process. That is, so you don’t have to protect them alone.


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